It's interesting that Bush never saw any need to compromise, and yet the Democrat-controlled Congress endorsed all of his actions. Strange, isn't it, how the 'realities of politics' change depending on which party is in power.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
It's interesting that Bush never saw any need to compromise, and yet the Democrat-controlled Congress endorsed all of his actions. Strange, isn't it, how the 'realities of politics' change depending on which party is in power.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
How public education cripples our kids, and why By John Taylor Gatto John Taylor Gatto is a former New York State and New York City Teacher of the Year and the author, most recently, of The Underground History of American Education. He was a participant in the Harper's Magazine forum "School on a Hill," which appeared in the September 2003 issue.
- I taught for thirty years in some of the worst schools in Manhattan, and in some of the best, and during that time I became an expert in boredom. Boredom was everywhere in my world, and if you asked the kids, as I often did, why they felt so bored, they always gave the same answers: They said the work was stupid, that it made no sense, that they already knew it. They said they wanted to be doing something real, not just sitting around. They said teachers didn't seem to know much about their subjects and clearly weren't interested in learning more. And the kids were right: their teachers were every bit as bored as they were.
- Boredom is the common condition of schoolteachers, and anyone who has spent time in a teachers' lounge can vouch for the low energy, the whining, the dispirited attitudes, to be found there. When asked why they feel bored, the teachers tend to blame the kids, as you might expect. Who wouldn't get bored teaching students who are rude and interested only in grades? If even that. Of course, teachers are themselves products of the same twelve-year compulsory school programs that so thoroughly bore their students, and as school personnel they are trapped inside structures even more rigid than those imposed upon the children. Who, then, is to blame?
- We all are. My grandfather taught me that. One afternoon when I was seven I complained to him of boredom, and he batted me hard on the head. He told me that I was never to use that term in his presence again, that if I was bored it was my fault and no one else's. The obligation to amuse and instruct myself was entirely my own, and people who didn't know that were childish people, to be avoided if possible. Certainty not to be trusted. That episode cured me of boredom forever, and here and there over the years I was able to pass on the lesson to some remarkable student. For the most part, however, I found it futile to challenge the official notion that boredom and childishness were the natural state of affairs in the classroom. Often I had to defy custom, and even bend the law, to help kids break out of this trap.
- The empire struck back, of course; childish adults regularly conflate opposition with disloyalty. I once returned from a medical leave to discover t~at all evidence of my having been granted the leave had been purposely destroyed, that my job had been terminated, and that I no longer possessed even a teaching license. After nine months of tormented effort I was able to retrieve the license when a school secretary testified to witnessing the plot unfold. In the meantime my family suffered more than I care to remember. By the time I finally retired in 1991, 1 had more than enough reason to think of our schools-with their long-term, cell-block-style, forced confinement of both students and teachers-as virtual factories of childishness. Yet I honestly could not see why they had to be that way. My own experience had revealed to me what many other teachers must learn along the way, too, yet keep to themselves for fear of reprisal: if we wanted to we could easily and inexpensively jettison the old, stupid structures and help kids take an education rather than merely receive a schooling. We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness-curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids to truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then...
- But we don't do that. And the more I asked why not, and persisted in thinking about the "problem" of schooling as an engineer might, the more I missed the point: What if there is no "problem" with our schools? What if they are the way they are, so expensively flying in the face of common sense and long experience in how children learn things, not because they are doing something wrong but because they are doing something right? Is it possible that George W. Bush accidentally spoke the truth when he said we would "leave no child behind"? Could it be that our schools are designed to make sure not one of them ever really grows up?
- Do we really need school? I don't mean education, just forced schooling: six classes a day, five days a week, nine months a year, for twelve years. Is this deadly routine really necessary? And if so, for what? Don't hide behind reading, writing, and arithmetic as a rationale, because 2 million happy homeschoolers have surely put that banal justification to rest. Even if they hadn't, a considerable number of well-known Americans never went through the twelve-year wringer our kids currently go through, and they turned out all right. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln? Someone taught them, to be sure, but they were not products of a school system, and not one of them was ever "graduated" from a secondary school. Throughout most of American history, kids generally didn't go to high school, yet the unschooled rose to be admirals, like Farragut; inventors, like Edison; captains of industry like Carnegie and Rockefeller; writers, like Melville and Twain and Conrad; and even scholars, like Margaret Mead. In fact, until pretty recently people who reached the age of thirteen weren't looked upon as children at all. Ariel Durant, who co-wrote an enormous, and very good, multivolume history of the world with her husband, Will, was happily married at fifteen, and who could reasonably claim that Ariel Durant was an uneducated person? Unschooled, perhaps, but not uneducated.
- We have been taught (that is, schooled) in this country to think of "success" as synonymous with, or at least dependent upon, "schooling," but historically that isn't true in either an intellectual or a financial sense. And plenty of people throughout the world today find a way to educate themselves without resorting to a system of compulsory secondary schools that all too often resemble prisons. Why, then, do Americans confuse education with just such a system? What exactly is the purpose of our public schools?
- Mass schooling of a compulsory nature really got its teeth into the United States between 1905 and 1915, though it was conceived of much earlier and pushed for throughout most of the nineteenth century. The reason given for this enormous upheaval of family life and cultural traditions was, roughly speaking, threefold:
- 1) To make good people. 2) To make good citizens. 3) To make each person his or her personal best. These goals are still trotted out today on a regular basis, and most of us accept them in one form or another as a decent definition of public education's mission, however short schools actually fall in achieving them. But we are dead wrong. Compounding our error is the fact that the national literature holds numerous and surprisingly consistent statements of compulsory schooling's true purpose. We have, for example, the great H. L. Mencken, who wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not
- to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States... and that is its aim everywhere else.
- Because of Mencken's reputation as a satirist, we might be tempted to dismiss this passage as a bit of hyperbolic sarcasm. His article, however, goes on to trace the template for our own educational system back to the now vanished, though never to be forgotten, military state of Prussia. And although he was certainly aware of the irony that we had recently been at war with Germany, the heir to Prussian thought and culture, Mencken was being perfectly serious here. Our educational system really is Prussian in origin, and that really is cause for concern.
- The odd fact of a Prussian provenance for our schools pops up again and again once you know to look for it. William James alluded to it many times at the turn of the century. Orestes Brownson, the hero of Christopher Lasch's 1991 book, The True and Only Heaven, was publicly denouncing the Prussianization of American schools back in the 1840s. Horace Mann's "Seventh Annual Report" to the Massachusetts State Board of Education in 1843 is essentially a paean to the land of Frederick the Great and a call for its schooling to be brought here. That Prussian culture loomed large in America is hardly surprising, given our early association with that utopian state. A Prussian served as Washington's aide during the Revolutionary War, and so many German-speaking people had settled here by 1795 that Congress considered publishing a German-language edition of the federal laws. But what shocks is that we should so eagerly have adopted one of the very worst aspects of Prussian culture: an educational system deliberately designed to produce mediocre intellects, to hamstring the inner life, to deny students appreciable leadership skills, and to ensure docile and incomplete citizens 11 in order to render the populace "manageable."
- It was from James Bryant Conant-president of Harvard for twenty years, WWI poison-gas specialist, WWII executive on the atomic-bomb project, high commissioner of the American zone in Germany after WWII, and truly one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century-that I first got wind of the real purposes of American schooling. Without Conant, we would probably not have the same style and degree of standardized testing that we enjoy today, nor would we be blessed with gargantuan high schools that warehouse 2,000 to 4,000 students at a time, like the famous Columbine High in Littleton, Colorado. Shortly after I retired from teaching I picked up Conant's 1959 book-length essay, The Child the Parent and the State, and was more than a little intrigued to see him mention in passing that the modem schools we attend were the result of a "revolution" engineered between 1905 and 1930. A revolution? He declines to elaborate, but he does direct the curious and the uninformed to Alexander Inglis's 1918 book, Principles of Secondary Education, in which "one saw this revolution through the eyes of a revolutionary."
- Inglis, for whom a lecture in education at Harvard is named, makes it perfectly clear that compulsory schooling on this continent was intended to be just what it had been for Prussia in the 1820s: a fifth column into the burgeoning democratic movement that threatened to give the peasants and the proletarians a voice at the bargaining table. Modern, industrialized, compulsory schooling was to make a sort of surgical incision into the prospective unity of these underclasses. Divide children by subject, by age-grading, by constant rankings on tests, and by many other more subtle means, and it was unlikely that the ignorant mass of mankind, separated in childhood, would ever re-integrate into a dangerous whole.
- Inglis breaks down the purpose - the actual purpose - of modem schooling into six basic functions, any one of which is enough to curl the hair of those innocent enough to believe the three traditional goals listed earlier:
- 1) The adjustive or adaptive function. Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority. This, of course, precludes critical judgment completely. It also pretty much destroys the idea that useful or interesting material should be taught, because you can't test for reflexive obedience until you know whether you can make kids learn, and do, foolish and boring things.
- 2) The integrating function. This might well be called "the conformity function," because its intention is to make children as alike as possible. People who conform are predictable, and this is of great use to those who wish to harness and manipulate a large labor force.
- 3) The diagnostic and directive function. School is meant to determine each student's proper social role. This is done by logging evidence mathematically and anecdotally on cumulative records. As in "your permanent record." Yes, you do have one.
- 4) The differentiating function. Once their social role has been "diagnosed," children are to be sorted by role and trained only so far as their destination in the social machine merits - and not one step further. So much for making kids their personal best. 5) The selective function. This refers not to human choice at all but to Darwin's theory of natural selection as applied to what he called "the favored races." In short, the idea is to help things along by consciously attempting to improve the breeding stock. Schools are meant to tag the unfit - with poor grades, remedial placement, and other punishments - clearly enough that their peers will accept them as inferior and effectively bar them from the reproductive sweepstakes. That's what all those little humiliations from first grade onward were intended to do: wash the dirt down the drain. 6) The propaedeutic function. The societal system implied by these rules will require an elite group of caretakers. To that end, a small fraction of the kids will quietly be taught how to manage this continuing project, how to watch over and control a population deliberately dumbed down and declawed in order that government might proceed unchallenged and corporations might never want for obedient labor.
- That, unfortunately, is the purpose of mandatory public education in this country. And lest you take Inglis for an isolated crank with a rather too cynical take on the educational enterprise, you should know that he was hardly alone in championing these ideas. Conant himself, building on the ideas of Horace Mann and others, campaigned tirelessly for an American school system designed along the same lines. Men like George Peabody, who funded the cause of mandatory schooling throughout the South, surely understood that the Prussian system was useful in creating not only a harmless electorate and a servile labor force but also a virtual herd of mindless consumers. In time a great number of industrial titans came to recognize the enormous profits to be had by cultivating and tending just such a herd via public education, among them Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller.
- Tre you have it. Now you know. We don't need Karl Marx's conception of a grand warfare between the classes to see that it is in the interest of complex management, economic or political, to dumb people down, to demoralize them, to divide them from one another, and to discard them if they don't conform. Class may frame the proposition, as when Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton University, said the following to the New York City School Teachers Association in 1909: "We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forgo the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks." But the motives behind the disgusting decisions that bring about these ends need not be class-based at all. They can stem purely from fear, or from the by now familiar belief that "efficiency" is the paramount virtue, rather than love, lib, erty, laughter, or hope. Above all, they can stem from simple greed.
- There were vast fortunes to be made, after all, in an economy based on mass production and organized to favor the large corporation rather than the small business or the family farm. But mass production required mass consumption, and at the turn of the twentieth century most Americans considered it both unnatural and unwise to buy things they didn't actually need. Mandatory schooling was a godsend on that count. School didn't have to train kids in any direct sense to think they should consume nonstop, because it did something even better: it encouraged them not to think at all. And that left them sitting ducks for another great invention of the modem era - marketing.
- Now, you needn't have studied marketing to know that there are two groups of people who can always be convinced to consume more than they need to: addicts and children. School has done a pretty good job of turning our children into addicts, but it has done a spectacular job of turning our children into children. Again, this is no accident. Theorists from Plato to Rousseau to our own Dr. Inglis knew that if children could be cloistered with other children, stripped of responsibility and independence, encouraged to develop only the trivializing emotions of greed, envy, jealousy, and fear, they would grow older but never truly grow up. In the 1934 edition of his once well-known book Public Education in the United States, Ellwood P. Cubberley detailed and praised the way the strategy of successive school enlargements had extended childhood by two to six years, and forced schooling was at that point still quite new. This same Cubberley - who was dean of Stanford's School of Education, a textbook editor at Houghton Mifflin, and Conant's friend and correspondent at Harvard - had written the following in the 1922 edition of his book Public School Administration: "Our schools are ... factories in which the raw products (children) are to be shaped and fashioned .... And it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down."
- It's perfectly obvious from our society today what those specifications were. Maturity has by now been banished from nearly every aspect of our lives. Easy divorce laws have removed the need to work at relationships; easy credit has removed the need for fiscal self-control; easy entertainment has removed the need to learn to entertain oneself; easy answers have removed the need to ask questions. We have become a nation of children, happy to surrender our judgments and our wills to political exhortations and commercial blandishments that would insult actual adults. We buy televisions, and then we buy the things we see on the television. We buy computers, and then we buy the things we see on the computer. We buy $150 sneakers whether we need them or not, and when they fall apart too soon we buy another pair. We drive SUVs and believe the lie that they constitute a kind of life insurance, even when we're upside-down in them. And, worst of all, we don't bat an eye when Ari Fleischer tells us to "be careful what you say," even if we remember having been told somewhere back in school that America is the land of the free. We simply buy that one too. Our schooling, as intended, has seen to it.
- Now for the good news. Once you understand the logic behind modern schooling, its tricks and traps are fairly easy to avoid. School trains children to be employees and consumers; teach your own to be leaders and adventurers. School trains children to obey reflexively; teach your own to think critically and independently. Well-schooled kids have a low threshold for boredom; help your own to develop an inner life so that they'll never be bored. Urge them to take on the serious material, the grown-up material, in history, literature, philosophy, music, art, economics, theology - all the stuff schoolteachers know well enough to avoid. Challenge your kids with plenty of solitude so that they can learn to enjoy their own company, to conduct inner dialogues. Well-schooled people are conditioned to dread being alone, and they seek constant companionship through the TV, the computer, the cell phone, and through shallow friendships quickly acquired and quickly abandoned. Your children should have a more meaningful life, and they can.
- First, though, we must wake up to what our schools really are: laboratories of experimentation on young minds, drill centers for the habits and attitudes that corporate society demands. Mandatory education serves children only incidentally; its real purpose is to turn them into servants. Don't let your own have their childhoods extended, not even for a day. If David Farragut could take command of a captured British warship as a pre-teen, if Thomas Edison could publish a broadsheet at the age of twelve, if Ben Franklin could apprentice himself to a printer at the same age (then put himself through a course of study that would choke a Yale senior today), there's no telling what your own kids could do. After a long life, and thirty years in the public school trenches, I've concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress our genius only because we haven't yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
"In our ways, spiritual consciousness is the highest form of politics.
We must live in harmony with the natural world and recognize that
excessive exploitation can only lead to our own destruction.
We cannot trade the welfare of our future generations for profit.
We are instructed to carry love for one another, and to show great
respect for all beings of the earth.
Our energy is the combined will of all people with the spirit of the
natural world, to be one body, one heart, and one mind."
Chief Leon Shennandoah
Fire Keeper of the Central Fire for the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy
This is my way also, it is part of the foundations for the Green Party, a world around political movement and party. We do need to work together as one with the natural world and I might add that the natural world has been trying to get our attention to tell us this all while contantly demonstrating it to us in a myriad of ways.
Yesterday, as I was driving back from business in Nashville I stopped to fill my tank with petrol from Venezuela. As my tank was filling I stepped away to gaze at the horizon and the sky as the sun was setting. Across the highway was a 30 foot wide grassy drainage area between the highway and the businesses and a school across the way. As I watched suddenly a flock of birds appeared swirling around in a big ball that changed shape as the flock would change directions back and forth up and down the grassy stretch and around the area getting bigger and bigger. I watched them play in amazement at their graceful ability to all act in unison. Suddenly the great ball of birds headed for a big tree and at once disappeared into it. Back lit by the evening sky the tree literally looked to me like the Tree of Life. As soon as the flock disappeared into the tree, however, a continuous flow of birds began to emit from it and scatter about and disappear into the grass, the schoolyard and all around the fast food restaurants and gas stations with their parking lots. It went on for what seemed a long while before the stream petered out. Then suddenly a small flock arose from the grass forming a ball and flying around and around the area ballooning in size as I had seen it do moments before and again, eventually, disappeared again into the Tree of Life.
I thought: why can't we be like the birds, coming together from all our various perspectives, all our different walks of life, and join together in celebration of the Tree of Life. Instead we have a nation divided struggling to remain standing. We have a Saudi King and other wealthy fascists funding a so-called television news network and a radio station monopoly that is daily engaged in driving a wedge into the heart of American unity by attacking the very foundations of our liberty, the Bill of Rights of our constitution, specifically the first and foremost amendment. So as the Green Party candidate for Governor I would like to ask the demonstrators opposing the mosque addition in Murfreesboro, New York and other places three questions:
- What part of Freedom of Religion don't you understand?
- Why are you listening to a corporate funded attack on our liberty?
- Why are there two groups opposing one another instead of together opposing this corporate funded attack on our Constitution?
Friday, August 20, 2010
I mentioned Green Party values yesterday and I want to share a list of 10 that the Green Committees of Correspondence for the US developed in 1989. As you can see, rather than Greens telling people what or how to do things it is instead assumed that we must all work together to answer these questions;
1. ECOLOGICAL WISDOM
How can we operate human societies with the understanding that we are part of nature, not on top of it?
How can we live within the ecological and resource limits of the planet, applying our technological knowledge to the challenge of an energy efficient economy?
How can we build a better relationship between cities and countryside?
How can we guarantee the rights of non-human species?
How can we promote sustainable agriculture and respect for self-regulating natural systems?
How can we further biocentric wisdom in all spheres of life?
2. GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY
How can we develop systems that allow and encourage us to control the decisions that affect our lives?
How can we ensure that representatives will be fully accountable to the people who elected them?
How can we develop planning mechanisms that would allow citizens to develop and implement their own preferences for policies and spending priorities?
How can we encourage and assist the “mediating institutions”—family, neighborhood organization, church group, voluntary association, ethnic club—to recover some of the functions now performed by the government?
How can we relearn the best insights from American traditions of civic vitality, voluntary action and community responsibility?
3. SOCIAL JUSTICE
How can we respond to human suffering in ways that promote dignity?
How can we encourage people to commit themselves to lifestyles that promote their own health?
How can we have a community controlled education system that effectively teaches our children academic skills, ecological wisdom, social responsibility and personal growth?
How can we resolve personal and intergroup conflicts without just turning them over to lawyers and judges?
How can we take responsibility for reducing the crime rate in our neighborhoods?
How can we encourage such values as simplicity and moderation?
How can we develop effective alternatives to our current patterns of violence at all levels, from the family and the street to nations and the world?
How can we eliminate nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth without being naive about the intentions of other governments?
How can we most constructively use nonviolent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and in the process reduce the atmosphere of polarization and selfishness that is itself a source of violence?
How can we reduce power and responsibility to individuals, institutions, communities and regions?
How can we encourage the flourishing of regionally-based culture, rather than a dominant mono-culture?
How can we have a decentralized, democratic society with our political, economic and social institutions locating power on the smallest scale (closest to home) that is efficient and practical?
How can we redesign our institutions so that fewer decisions and less regulation over money are granted as one moves from the community to the national level?
How can we reconcile the need for community and regional self-determination with the need for appropriate centralized regulation in certain matters?
6. COMMUNITY BASED ECCONOMICS
How can we redesign our work structures to encourage employee ownership and workplace democracy?
How can we develop new economic activities and institutions that will allow us to use our new technologies in ways that are humane, freeing, ecological and accountable, and responsive to communities?
How can we establish some form of basic economic security, open to all?
How can we move beyond the narrow “job ethic” to new definitions of “work,” jobs” and “income” that reflect the changing economy?
How can we restructure our patterns of income distribution to reflect the wealth created by those outside the formal monetary economy: those who take responsibility for parenting, housekeeping, home gardens, community volunteer work, etc.?
How can we restrict the size and concentrated power of corporations without discouraging superior efficiency or technological innovation?
How can we replace the cultural ethics of dominance and control with more cooperative ways of interacting?
How can we encourage people to care about persons outside their own group?
How can we promote the building of respectful, positive and responsible relationships across the lines of gender and other divisions?
How can we encourage a rich, diverse political culture that respects feelings as well as rationalist approaches?
How can we proceed with as much respect for the means as the end (the process as much as the product of our efforts)?
How can we learn to respect the contemplative, inner part of life as much as the outer activities?
8. RESPECT FOR DIVERSITY
How can we honor cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity within the context of individual responsibility toward all beings?
How can we reclaim our country’s finest shared ideals: the dignity of the individual, democratic participation, and liberty and justice for all?
9. GLOBAL RESPOSIBILITY
How can we be of genuine assistance to the grassroots groups in the Third World? What can we learn from such groups?
How can we help other countries make the transition to self-sufficiency in food and other basic necessities?
How can we cut our defense budget while maintaining an adequate defense?
How can we promote these ten Green values in the reshaping of our global order?
How can we reshape the world order without creating just another enormous nation-state?
How can we induce people and institutions to think in terms of the long range future, and not just in terms of their short range selfish interest?
How can we encourage people to develop their own visions of the future and move more effectively toward them?
How can we judge whether new technologies are socially useful, and use these judgements to shape our society?
How can we induce our government and other institutions to practice fiscal responsibility?
How can we make the quality of life, rather than open-ended economic growth, the focus of future thinking?
Hmmm, we can start by voting for and helping build the Green Party along with all the many other things people are doing all around the world to advance a new Green way of life in the world, one with compassion for all things, broadly diverse but living in a harmonious balance with universal principles.
wolakota wa yaka cola - Lakota ...peace without slavery
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Running for governor has me getting lots of questionnaires from various organizations, I've gotten them from the NRA, The Abigail Adams Project, Americans for Tax Reform, Project Vote Smart, another organization concerned with mental health, another with intellectual and developmental disabilities and more. I've also gotten some invitations to come speak or debate, like the one in Nashville I told you a little about There is another debate to be in Chattanooga on October 14th. I'll be visiting with three high school classes in Maryville, TN, the next day and there will be a campaign event in Knoxville that night. I also just got a call from a friend in Memphis who said there had been a mention of my campaign in a local paper (thank you Bernie) and he wants to throw a campaign party for me. He did that for me in 2006 as well and we met some great folks over there.
I prefer events where I can speak to filling out questionnaires, which I admit I seldom do because of the time involved and I can never comfortably answer their carefully crafted questions designed to pin you down on their favorite issue or issues which they are very keen and up-to-date on. The problem I have is they often assume only two positions and usually leave no room to explain a third way. Some of them come from right-wing groups concerned with guns, abortions and taxes and wonder how much those issues really affect most people's lives. I agree we pay too much in taxes for what we get from it as most of it is wasted on the military industrial complex. Yeah, they provide jobs, but so does a pimp or a drug king-pin. The A.T.R. questionnaire included a Pledge I was to sign saying I would oppose any new taxes but insisting that there be "No new taxes" seems to be a thin cover for protecting the wealthy corporations rather than reforming our tax system to make it more fair. I'm not convinced they care what fair is.
Katey saw a spot showing some kids campaigning for class president, she said, and each held up a sign stating their respective positions, going down the row of candidates the last kids sign read "All of the above." It was a reversal of David "None of the above" Gatchel's campaign. What I liked about the kids sign was that "All of the Above" could be construed as "Let's all work together." Looking at the enormous issues facing us, that our leaders have not yet begun to face, we really do all need to work together. Obviously in a culture where what is said on TV seems to carry more weight than even one's own experience, it may be difficult getting that started. We may have to wait until oil production gets so expensive it can no longer keep the tractors and trucks rolling, until climate change is fries us to a crisp or washes us a way in one of the increasingly common freak storms.
I want to briefly mention my platform, or ...my stool. I've identified 5 legs for my stool in this campaign. They are Security, Economy, Ecology, Health, Education. While it is just 5 catagories I can see how most concerns will fit within one or more of them. I should say too that I support the platform of the Green Party of the US too, most of it anyway. It is a living document so its always being discussed, revised and expanded which is how it should be as more facets of our circumstances are revealed over time.
Security: I don't know about you but my community is pretty heavily armed, I expect yours is too as U.S. citizens own a lot of weaponry. In the gun's department we are covered but I'm not sure how much real security that gives us. If we are ever invaded I expect we'll be ready for them. And too, we have a heavily armed police force ready to take care of all the criminals, despite the fact that crime rates have been going down for 30 years. I guess that is why they keep making more laws, got to keep the customers flowing into the prison industry to assure more prison profits. But when the trucks stop rolling how much security will you have? You could hunt food with it but having lost much natural habitat the local ecology may not have enough to feed everyone. But as the old saying goes, 'there is safety in numbers.' Biologists have been discovering that nature's success depends more on cooperation than it does on competition and we, my friends, despite what you've been told, are a part of nature. Without an evolutionary effort at cooperation with one another and our planetary environment, our security could be fatally compromised. Why?
Economy: Because the growth economy has hit the wall, that's why, and we hippies have known it would all along. Our economy is critically linked to our security as we can see. In a pyramid scheme the base has to keep getting wider or it can't continue, and the base of this pyramid has gone round the world and there is now no room to expand further. So, now what? We've got to build a new economy, one that is state of the art and steady state. It is not hard to imagine and it is not that hard to build but it does require broad based cooperation because each community member must be involved in their economy. We have the resources and the talent to do it in this state, we can access the necessary technologies, we have everything we need except the cooperation. The cooperation of government, business, communities and individuals will be required to build a decentralized and localized food, fuel and fiber, growing and processing network better than the one America grew up on. It is clear the basics come from the soil and require water and sunlight as we all do. We have a critical relationship with these things as the human beings and the other 30 million species on this planet are interdependent. We all should now know what that relationship is called, right?
Ecology: Each of us is a whole being and each of us is a part of a greater being, and by us I mean all us beings, trees, toads, shrooms and monkeys, water and air, the soil, we all live together and have important relationships with other species. All the basics for our life come from this larger community of beings. Apocalypse I'm told literally means, translated from the Greek, 'the lifting of the veil' so as to now see what has been obscured. Apocalypse is what I see happening nearly everywhere as people are realizing their connection to one another, our history, the earth and all its systems, all its beings. More and more people are beginning realize that we have to change direction to at least lessen if not avoid catastrophe. Many know we need change but only a few know what changes are required, so ask a hippy, not a suit. Our ecology is critical to our...
Health: This is because, as we all know, our food, our water, our air is all critical to our health. If is is not clean and healthy we will not be clean and healthy. Any health care system truly interested health will be heavily invested toward preventative measures as much as fix-it measures. It is easier to maintain health than it is to rebuild it when it has been destroyed. So first order for health is to do no harm, then clean and protect our ecology, but then we might want to have primary health clinics in every community to handle the day to day exams, maintenance and emergency patch up jobs, etc. all perhaps connected to a state wide data base so as to track any disease that might spread and to keep track of what works and what doesn't. The profit motive has to be removed from health care as it only encourages dishonesty and isn't very caring along with many grave and expensive inefficiencies. Time to grow up and take care of ourselves better. Its a shame that people aren't really given the tools needed to grow up in our schooling system and instead are dumped into the economy ill prepared to swim in a system designed cheat them out of most, if not all, of their life. Instead of schools we need...
Education: A well educated people cannot be easily controlled, a well schooled people are easily controlled. We all need to understand the difference. We need real life education for our children instead of locking them up in windowless jail-like buildings all day with well meaning babysitters. Young children should be with their parents learning what parents have to do to take care of their child, to take care of their family, to take care of their responsibilities to their community etc.. Our way to doing things needs to change so as to accommodate children in many areas of the economy. The root word for education means "to draw one out." How many of us ever experienced that with a teacher in school? When it is connected to those who love us in real life circumstances things like math, science, reading, etc. all become tools we want for life, tools for enhancing our experience, tools for doing a job better or easier, creating a way to live in harmony.
All of you who know what I'm talking about, agree and want to make a little noise can help me by spreading the word on the web. If any of you have experience with the tools for running a strong internet campaign, and have nothing else to do, drop me a line. Money would be okay too as it can buy talent but if you are like me, and I expect you are, that stuff is hard to come by these days and you have to be careful what you do with it.
Pelimayahe (thank you ...in Lakota)
Sunday, August 8, 2010
I like running for Governor partly because it gets me to focus on articulating a Green Vision for the future, something I'm not sure has been done very well yet. Partly it is because it will require many people in many places participation to really design and build the diversified system I'm talking about. Someone said I was suggesting isolationism by focusing on the community but nothing could be farther from the truth. It is true that life's essentials will need to be produced locally for the most part in order to be sustainable, but it is also vital to re-establish social relations within communities and to re-establish critical trade networks with other communities. The current system relies on oil powered systems of distribution from centralized locations for food, fuel, medicine, clothing, for some even water, and over the last 100 years has destroyed the older critical life supporting networks of communities. The current system is vast and complex but could fail with even small reductions in fuel accessibility. We can redesign the system before we run out which will make it much easier to get systems in place for the long haul. We can do it in any case but we might loose a bunch of us in the process if we don't begin soon. Cuba managed to make the change when their oil supply was abruptly ended, bicycles and organic food production everywhere, but they are a relatively small island.
We will need to raise the standards for corporate behavior on our state barring certain activities. Just as our climate and weather patterns have been destabilized by unwise and unregulated practices so has our economy, so has our food, fuel and fiber systems, our access to clean water too is being threatened. So the challenge is to design a balanced system, one that can provide for our needs as well as for the needs of our ecology. It should not be that complicated as it is in our genetic memory, we used to do it. Now we prodce 20 times the carbon emissions as the rest of the world, we need to take responsibility for our actions at a personal and community level as well as for the actions of US based corporations.
The five planks I mentioned are my platform and in the coming posts will attempt to lay out a Green Vision of each; Security, Economy, Ecology, Health, Education, to further explain myself. Please feel free to ask questions in the comment section below.
Good day all,
Friday, August 6, 2010
We came back from our trip to Pine Ridge Reservation just in time to participate in a gubernatorial debate. Having not been invited to the debate with all the corporate-funded candidates I had hoped there would be at least one debate with the independent and third party candidates. Tennessee has a tradition of colorful candidates for governor and this debate was between three of them. It was organized by the Basil Marceaux campaign, of Colbert Report fame, and besides yours truly, stage center, there was June Griffin of Daily Show fame ...from Dayton, TN, of monkey trial fame. So there I was, sandwiched between all this fame. Basil was a likable buffoon who paid for the hall and whose antics had drawn the audience there, largely for the entertainment it would provide. June Griffin was an angry, and somewhat scary, fundamentalist. Despite her claim of supporting the Constitution it became clear to me that our Constitution was written to protect us from people with ideas like hers. Pursuit of happiness was not part of her program but Basil was all for it.
It was difficult to get the conversation focused on things that we could do to really help people's lives. They were both big second amendment supporters opposed to regulation. I pointed out that it was the first amendment that was being threatened not the 2nd amendment...that this whole gun flap is to stir the fear and sell more guns all while crime figures have been going down for 30 years. I guess that is why crime reporting is up over 1000%, atrocity sells guns. I asked, why are we so afraid that we feel the need to carry a gun? ...and shouldn't we be addressing that issue? At one point I had to admit to the audience that much of what I was hearing sounded pretty crazy.
It is difficult for a Green to get their ideas out and understood in a society guided by two polarized philosophies; individualism and socialism. Despite their differences, the two dominant philosophies are both human-centric and industrial. Green political thought is based on a philosophy that includes the 30 million other species our existence is interwoven with, and on which we depend for food, water and the other necessities of life. The current economy is parasitic, turning the biomass of other species into more human biomass as industrial activities propel extinctions of others at an accelerating rate. The writing is on the wall, our planet is finite, and while only a minority are seeing it Greens have a plan to repair the damage.
We would begin with redirecting the state's priorities away from service to extractive corporate clients to re-establishing viable, resilient and self reliant, self-governing, sustainable communities, organized by watersheds. We would proliferate facilitated Community Dialogue Projects so people could come together to get to know one another again to research and discuss what was best for their community. Communities would be helped with Community Resource Assessments to determine the talent, ideas and materials available to them for building a resilient local economy. We would pursue equipping communities with community scale technologies for food, fiber, fuel and energy as well as regional manufacturing of essential tools and equipment for them. Our five priorities would be 1. economy 2. ecology 3. health 4. security 5. education. In green philosophy these are all connected and are the primary concern of all living things, all communities. Communities would design their systems so that all nutrient and material loops would be closed, wasting nothing, operating within the limits of their environment and in harmony with it. Solar resources would be utilized to the max, directly or indirectly. Science would be freed from only experts to encourage innovation and invention. We would establish community banks and a state bank as a bulwark against the funny money of Wall Street. Education would be integrated into the fabric of the community teaching real skills as well as critical thinking and problem solving. We would be designing a stable decentralized system, one with plenty of redundancy for security. A centralized system is vulnerable at its center, with no center to attack a decentralized system is much more stable and secure. Its the difference between a one legged stool and a 5 legged stool.
Friday, July 23, 2010
I have had my nose to the grindstone, so to speak, lately but it seems like every time I look up our situation is worse. The USDA fired a woman in charge of the southeast region based on a story from FOX news and the guy who was able to destroy ACORN, a group that had been helping poor people, by using edited video tape to misrepresent the truth, meaning it was a lie. They apparently snipped a small part of the woman's speech to the NAACP in which she recounted her coming to awareness of her own racism and how it changed her viewpoint. The Dirty Rotten Liar News Corporation then made the false case that she was a racist which got her fired immediately. So a TV network can make up lies and get a government official fired without the government even looking into the accuracy of the charges? We are in trouble aren't we. The crazies out there are making up so many lies now one almost wants to come to the defense of the Democrats. Of course we know the Democrats are just playing their lame part in this corporate funded drama that in the end may have us all enslaved even more than we are today if folks don't wake up and begin challenging the corporate (Republican) lies much more aggressively. We are currently headed for another civil war which I would really like to see us all avoid. Its time to pull the plug on these troublemakers and get down to business on how we can rescue the world from the corporate behemoth.
I will be on the reservation at Pine Ridge for a couple weeks, I'm going to help the natives build a big barn with straw bale walls. If you are voting in the primary, please vote for the non-corporate candidate ...if there is one.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
I guess FOX news missed an opportunity with that headline, eh? Of course it is not news much like the rest of their program. I went to the Peace Festival knowing I would see a lot of people I know to let them know I was running for Governor again and to meet and hear Cindy Sheehan speak. Cindy is a mother who lost her son in Iraq, a high price to pay for the awareness of what our military industrial complex government is really like. She bemoaned the fact that she was again talking to the choir and told the small crowd of the usual suspects gathered there that protests on the weekends weren't going to change things, "while they(the MIC) take the weekends off to enjoy themselves." She said "we all have to take to the streets", and was clearly reaching the conclusion that change was going to require a full time effort by many people, probably many more than those who would now call themselves members of the Peace Movement. Challenging the military industrial complex and its puppet government of two parties in the streets, however, can get you hurt if you aren't careful. The closer one gets to interrupting business as usual the more brutal the state response.
Cindy told everyone she did not vote for Obama but for the Green Party candidate, Cynthia McKinney, but pointed out how challenges at the ballot box have not gone well either. She said "they tell us that change comes at the ballot box but that is not so." We are given few avenues to change the system because the system doesn't want to change despite all the evidence and signals that they are headed way the wrong direction. The Green Party can lead in the right direction if people will stop voting for the system and they will have to stop allowing the system to convince them its going to change, just in order to get their vote of course.
The Green Party is running in this race in a effort to win a ballot line, it only takes 50,000 votes. currently the major political parties represent corporate interests over that of the people who live int heir districts. These corporate interests fund the political process in this country which allows them undue control over it. Stopping this is difficult but the Gulf disaster is an example of the world we can expect if we don't. I think there is a collective intelligence that needs to be awakened. Our European relations use 43% of the energy we consume. You can't walk into a convenience store and see a whole wall of refrigeration for different colors of the same sugar water in any other country in the world. We are not suggesting austerity, we are only asking for an end to the gluttony.
It doesn't matter what religious or non-religious beliefs we have as long as we have good relations. It is a huge project to rebuild our economy from the ground up, from the community level up. It will require everyone in each community to join in such a project because the time may be coming when they will have no other good option. The Green Party can provide the kind of leadership we need but as was recently demonstrated it is not the leaders who are important for a movement, it is the followers who are most important. Once enough followers are doing what the leader does the leader disappears into the throng. This is how it should be.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Bob Hope once said "No one party can fool all the people all the time. That's why we have two parties." I had never realized that Bob Hope so totally "got it" and these days I think more and more people are. We've been provided a good list of some elements of the mess we are in by progressives but we can hardly blame it all on Republicans. While the two parties may differ in many respects when it comes to campaign promises they begin to look a lot alike when it comes to the overall thrust of policy, which is to serve the interests of the mostly American based multi-national corporations who funded their rise to positions of power. If we look at who gave what to whom to get elected we find the same major corporations giving to both parties but favoring one or the other with more in the years they are the winners. Yes, Virginia, politicians are elected with money, more and more of it every cycle. The candidate who spends the most gets the most votes, its pretty big news when, rarely, that does not happen. Corporations with deep pockets, such as these multi-nationals, can buy our government with a very tiny percentage of what they rake in. How deep are those pockets?
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Even more significant, States cannot request a waiver to set up a different plan until 2017. There is no wiggle room, the law is the law. There is no opt-out language. This is a clear mandate that exchanges be established in every state by 2014. States are required to spend the time, money and resources to set up and operate the insurance exchange. They may choose to have one or two or more exchanges or set up regional exchanges. A single payer type plan or a public option with or without an exchange is not allowed. Thus, as things stand, states cannot experiment with any approach that is not based on the private insurance market exchange model until 2017, after they have set up an exchange or the federal government has set one up for them.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
While I have a different view on many issues, I get the feeling that at a deep level we have very much the same concerns as tea party people. The Constitution is being trampled, the wealth of the nation is being wasted, the government is more and more intruding into our lives, education is a joke, the health care bill is unbelievably horrible, we're over-extended in mad wars, and the list goes on. At this level I think we are mostly in agreement. Where we part ways is when the enemy is identified as liberals, progressives, the poor, the addicted, the obese, the immigrant, the handicapped, the others who are different in almost any way. We all know where that brand of disgust leads and believe me we do not want to go there. Having elected Obama on a Tsunami of hope after the disaster of Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush, America is waking up but they're still pretty groggy and confused. Republican extremists are trying to exploit that confusion but I'm hoping they will soon see through that nonsense and realize it is the corporatist democratic and republican parties both that got us into this mess. One is as culpable as the other but we should look beyond them for the answers, beyond them to the industrialist bankers and their corporations that dominate our political system, which even includes the Supreme Court apparently as they concur with them that only money should rule. I am encouraged to see Americans getting off their couches and on their feet but it is a well informed citizenry that is required and if they continue to listen to the political pundits on TV, as has been proven, they will know less and less. I would very much like to sit down with you, drink some green tea, and talk about the future. I think we will need to take care of one another in order to get to the world we all want.
Hi All, this is something I support without reservation, keep our mountains green.
Applauds EPA's Order to
Curb Mountaintop Removal Mining,
Calls on Tennessee Legislature to Pass
Bi-partisan Scenic Vistas Legislation
NASHVILLE- Tennessee Conservation Voters releases the following statement on the Environmental Protection Agency's order to ban moutaintop removal mining:
Chris Ford, TCV Executive Director:
"Today TCV and our member organizations and many partners throughout the state join our Appalachian brothers and sisters to gratefully
"Banning Mountaintop Remvoal Mining in Tennesee has been a top priority for Tennessee Conservation Voters, committed citizens and the faith community throughout our state for quite some time. I could not agree more with Administrator Jackson----our mountain people should not have to choose between their health, safety and job security. Sound economic development that is sustainable for future generations is the only reasonable solution to protect our mountain heritage and Tennessee way of life. Correcting the injustice visited among Appalachians for the benefit of the wealthy hundreds of miles away is long overdue.
"On this Good Friday I am reminded of a scripture passage that exhorts us to let justice roll down like water----CLEAN WATER! We are grateful that many prayers have been answered, but diligent in our resolve to continue forward in our work for clean water, clean air, healthy living and economically strong communities in our mountain communities.
Our organization now calls upon our Tennessee elected officials to codify these orders and pass the bipartisan Scenic Vistas legislation presently before the Tennessee House and Senate to stop this destructive practice in Tennessee before it spreads any further. Our future lies before us with endless possibilities for cleaner energy solutions---
HI all, I am running for governor of Tennessee again. Why, you might ask, would I do that? Well I could say because I think we need a better government, one that represents the interests of common people, one that does not roll over for large corporations. Or because I think we need a public bank like North Dakota has that protected it from the recent Wall Street shenanigans, or because we need a single-payer health care system like Canada, one that cares not excludes. Or because we need to build a state economy based on producing the essential needs of Tennesseans first, food, housing, medicine, clothing, fuel, etc.. Those are all good reasons however my main motivation today is because we need to open up the current corrupt political process to all parties so we can begin to reclaim the rights and responsibilities of a free people as enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. And as part of that to make reparations to natives, former slave families, the land, the water and the air, without whom we would have nothing.